05/03/2002 01:29 am ET
Piniella has a hand in M's success
Boone and Cameron benefit from Piniella's moves
By John Ralph / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Give Lou Piniella credit on this one.
Prior to Thursday's game against the White Sox, the intuitive Seattle skipper decided a lineup shuffle was in order. After all, the Mariners had lost three straight games for only the second time in two years. By Seattle standards, that requires immediate action.
"We've been struggling a little bit scoring runs, so we're going to move it around a little bit until we get going," said Piniella prior to the game.
He moved Bret Boone from the No. 3 spot in the order to No. 2 and bumped Mike Cameron up to third. The results could not have been better. All Boone and Cameron did was hit two homers apiece -- and that was just in the first inning.
Talk about a slump buster.
The Mariners, who entered the game with a .226 batting average over their last 10 games, erupted for 10 runs on eight hits in the first inning off White Sox starter Jon Rauch and reliever Jim Parque and cruised to a 15-4 win on a chilly night at Comiskey Park.
Cameron eventually stole the show from his teammate Boone, tying a Major League record with four home runs on the night.
The dynamic duo made a genius out of Piniella.
"The guys we talked about needing to get going all did tonight," said the Seattle skipper, whose team improved to 19-9 on the season and 11-2 on the road.
Ichiro Suzuki started the uprising by taking one for the team on the very first pitch from Rauch. Boone hit the next pitch into the right-field bullpen for a 2-0 lead. Three pitches later, Cameron followed suit against his old team, launching a Rauch fastball over the 400-foot sign in center field.
When Boone came back to the plate for the second time, it was 7-0 and Parque had come on in relief. Once again, Boone went after the first pitch and once again he deposited it in the right-field bullpen. And when Cameron followed with another blast to exact same spot in center field, deja vu filled the air at Comiskey Park.
The 12,891 fans in attendance sat in disbelief as Cameron circled the bases the second time. Then the inning took an even stranger turn, when play was halted as the umpires gathered behind the pitching mound to discuss something. Considering the deluge that had preceded, one had to wonder if they might be out of baseballs.
In actuality, a broken broom handle had been thrown on the field and the umpires were directing security to remove the individual responsible. Obviously, the White Sox fan in question had brought the broom in the hopes of celebrating a Chicago sweep. Instead, he left it in splinters on the field and received an immediate escort out of the ballpark.
The inning finally came to an end when John Olerud, the 14th batter to come to the plate, grounded out to first. The Mariners' 10 first-inning runs set a club record.
"It was awesome to watch," said Boone, who has six home runs on the season.
Prior to coming to the plate in the third, he issued a friendly challenge to his teammate.
"I told him, 'Cameron, now if I hit a home run in my
next at-bat, don't be choking,'" said Boone. "'You better hit another one too.' Then I struck out and he hit one and I said 'I choked, I'm sorry!'"
All joking aside though, Boone was happy to finally break through.
"We've both been scuffling lately pretty bad, and we were
probably the two most unlikely guys to do it the way
we've been swinging lately," Boone said. "Sometimes a
thing like this gets you started."
That's just what Piniella is hoping.
John Ralph is the Central Deputy Editor for MLB.com. This story was not
subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.